If you are the host of today's festivities you are, no doubt, up early to start cooking your turkey. If you are me, however, you are at a good friends home in Maryland, with a cafe filtre in hand, sitting alone in a dark kitchen, dying to share a few last minute ideas with any takers. As promised yesterday on Twitter and Facebook, here follows a recipe for roasted root vegetables that I recently starting serving as a Thanksgiving hors d'oeuvres. Radically simple to prepare, these veggies are surprisingly delicious at room temperature and satisfy many gustatory issues on this rather peculiar eating day. First, they can be made early in the morning (and drizzled with good olive oil and a splash of fresh lemon juice just before serving.) Second, they fulfill the commandment to respect any vegetarians coming to visit. Third, they are inexpensive. Fourth, they don't compete for oven time later in the day. Fifth, they look dramatic on a large platter. Sixth, they don't fill you up in the way that cheese logs and artichoke-spinach dip often do. Seventh, the pecan gremolata is addictive. And last, but not least, they taste good with Prosecco, apple cider or...Scotch!
Equally compelling is my gently spiced Sweet Potato Gratin. It looks a lot like a birthday cake and can be transported (and reheated) easily in the cake pan in which it's baked. Intriguingly spiced, it taunts your taste buds with nary a marshmallow in sight.
Happy Thanksgiving. I'm going back to bed.
Roasted Root Vegetables with Pecan Gremolata If you don't love turnips, you may substitute an equal amount of butternut squash or rutabagas, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces.
1 pound carrots 1 pound parsnips 1 pound turnips, butternut squash or rutabaga 1-1/4 pounds Brussels sprouts 4 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for drizzling 3/4 cup pecans 1/4 cup finely chopped parsley 1/4 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano 2 large lemons 1 small clove garlic
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Peel the carrots, parsnips and turnips. Cut the carrots and parsnips in half lengthwise and then in half across the width. Peel the turnips (butternut squash or rutabaga) into 1-inch wedges or chunks. Trim bottoms of Brussels sprouts and cut in half lengthwise. Place the vegetables in a large bowl and toss with 3 tablespoons olive oil. Put vegetables on large rimmed baking sheet. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast 45 minutes, tossing several time during baking. Roast 10 to 20 minutes longer until tender. Transfer to a large platter. Make gremolata; Put pecans in food processor and pulse until finely ground (like bulgur wheat). Transfer to a bowl and stir in Parmesan and parsley. Grate the rind of both lemons and add to pecans. Stir in 1 tablespoon lemon juice and 1 tablespoon olive oil. Push garlic through a press and add to mixture. Add a pinch of salt, if needed. Scatter on top of vegetables. When ready to serve, drizzle with more olive oil and the juice of 1 lemon. Serves 8
Spiced Sweet Potato Gratin This can be made up to 8 hours in advance and reheated in a 400 degree oven for 15 minutes. You will need a 9 or 10-inch removable-bottom springform pan.
7 large sweet potatoes, 3-1/2 to 4 pounds 1-1/2 cups sour cream 12 ounces extra-sharp white cheddar, shredded 1 tablespoon curry powder 1 tablespoon ground cumin 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon 3/4 teaspoon ground ginger
Put sweet potatoes in a large pot with water to cover. Bring to a rapid boil and boil 20 minutes until potatoes are just tender when pierced with a small knife. Be careful not to overcook as they need to be sliced. Drain in a colander under cold water. Slice potatoes 1/4-inch thick and pat dry with paper towels. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line the bottom of the springform pan with a round of foil. Line the bottom with a layer of sweet potato slices (about 2-1/3 potatoes per layer.) Fill in any spaces with potato pieces. Press down lightly to make a thick layer. Spread 1/2 cup sour cream over potatoes to cover completely. Mix spices in small bowl; sprinkle with 1/3 of the spice mixture. Sprinkle evenly with 1/3 of the cheese. Repeat process, making 2 more layers, ending with cheese on top. Place pan on rimmed baking sheet; bake 35-40 minutes until top is golden and bubbly. Remove from oven. Serve while hot or reheat later. Cut into wedges. Serves 10 to 12